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Full text of "My Country And My People"

192          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

injure all their chances of a normal digestive system rather
than make one of their intended hosts lose face. Many defeated
generals who ought to be beheaded or rot in prison are sent
on tours of "industrial" or "educational inspection" to Europe as
a price for their surrender, which saves their face and which
explains the periodic recrudescence of civil wars in China. A
whole government ministry was abolished four or five years
ago in order to avoid the word "dismissal" and save the face
of the minister who ought to have been told in plain terms to
get out and perhaps get a jail sentence besides. (A dismissal
would make the minister lose face, because there was no change
of cabinet at the time.) Human, all too human, this face of
ours. And yet, it is the goad of ambition and can overcome
the Chinese love of money. It has caused a schoolteacher in-
finite misery because the foreign principal insisted on increasing
his salary from eighteen dollars to nineteen dollars. He would
rather take eighteen dollars or twenty or die than be called a
nineteen-dollar man. A father-in-law, by refusing to ask his
unworthy son-in-law to stay for supper and thus making him
lose face, is probably only wanting to make a man out of him,
and very possibly that solitary walk on his way back home
may be the beginning of his making good.

It is safer on the whole, however, to travel with people who
have no face than with people who have too much of it. Two
soldiers on a Yangtse steamer insisted on having the face to
go into a forbidden room containing cases of sulphur and sit
on these cases and throw cigarette ends about, against the
entreaty of the compradore. Eventually, the steamer was
blown up, and the soldiers succeeded in saving their face but
not their charred carcasses. This had nothing to do with
ignorance or education. An educated Chinese general about
five years ago thought his face entitled him to overweight
baggage when going up in an aeroplane at Shanghai, despite
the remonstrations and pleadings of the pilot. Moreover, he
wanted to have extra face before his friends who came to see
him off, and ordered the pilot to circle round. As he was a
powerful militarist the extra face was "granted." But the pilot
became nervous, the plane refused to go up evenly, it hit
against a tree, and eventually the general paid for his face by